The debate over the United States' plans to attack Iraq and eliminate its president has become so shrill and convoluted that it's difficult to maintain understanding of it in a broader context. We're down to arguing over whether or not a drone that Iraq failed to report to weapons inspectors constitutes a violation of United Nations resolution 1441, and whether that drone is the smoking gun necessary to justify a bloody war.
What it really comes down to is analyzing the situation from a standpoint of motive or results. It's become pointless to talk about the U.N., even though that's all anyone's discussing at the moment. For political reasons, various U.N. partners remain opposed to war, and that's not going to change. George W. Bush will begin bombing Baghdad-probably within the next couple of weeks-with partial support around the world.
The anti-war movement, which extends around the world on all continents, continues to protest loudly and will keep doing so deep into the war. But their efforts, righteous as they are, have no practical effect-at least in this country, the only one that matters.
The critics are hollering both about motive and results, but mostly about motive. And it's Bush's motive that's become increasing hard to pin down. If you listened to the President last Thursday evening during his primetime press conference-or, more precisely, his rehearsed talking points-we're going to attack Iraq because Saddam Hussein is responsible for the horrors in New York and Washington D.C. in 2001 and is a threat to America.
There's no evidence that Hussein had anything to do with Sept. 11. There is no link between Hussein and Al Qaeda. Hussein's regime is secular and anathema to the extreme religious fundamentalists behind the attacks. In his latest taped diatribe, Osama bin Laden spoke as unfavorably of Hussein as he did of the U.S.
None of that matters to Bush and the pro-war hawks in his administration. For them, knowing how emotional Americans still are about that horrible day, the psychological linkage of Iraq and Sept. 11 will do just fine.
So he brought it up, over and over again, working it into his answers to questions that had nothing to do with terrorism, trying to hypnotize us with The Big Lie. And it's working. More and more Americans believe Hussein had a role in the attacks on the U.S.
There's no evidence that Iraq poses a threat to the U.S. It has been sufficiently contained. And Hussein has not attacked the U.S. in the past. He fought a war, with American support, against Iran, and he invaded Kuwait for geopolitical reasons-after getting U.S. assurance that we wouldn't intervene.
The best justification for war is the awful repression and violence Hussein has committed against Iraqi citizens, but on that score, the U.S. has no moral authority. We did nothing back in the late 1980s when Hussein gassed his people. We were his allies, just as we are allies with other countries around the world whose leaders do terrible things to their citizens. The U.S. only plays the human-rights card when it's useful for political reasons. Don't believe it; you're being hoodwinked.
In any case, it doesn't matter what our motive is. We're going to war, thanks to the U.S. Congress, which rolled over for the President and gave him the authority to use force with almost no debate. The Democratic Party is utterly useless and shouldn't be allowed back in power until it develops a spine. Our recommendation is to ignore the Democrats' sudden, belated opposition. It's nauseating and irrelevant.
Motive only comes into the equation when we talk about the potential results. The U.S. is basically saying that it's willing to sacrifice countless innocent Iraqi lives-and who knows how many American soldiers-to separate that country's head from its body. For what reason?
We can argue that war will make Iraq better off in the long-term, but can we say the same about the security of the United States, which is what we say we're going to war to protect? Probably not. Our arrogant, unilateral war strengthens the resolve of those who despise our foreign policies. The U.S. has done nothing to get the big bull's-eye off its back. This war will just make it bigger.